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Report calls Stanford traffic mitigation for Menlo Park 'intolerable'

Original post made on Mar 22, 2011

A report drafted by the transportation commission calls the inequity between the $8.3 million Stanford has proposed giving Palo Alto to mitigate impacts from its upcoming hospital expansion versus the minimal amount allocated for Menlo Park "intolerable."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 21, 2011, 8:11 PM

Comments (44)

Posted by mur, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

The traffic analysis done in the EIR is deeply flawed when it comes to current traffic on Sand Hill Rd. at commute time. The analysis, which was performed 4 years ago, does not come close to reflecting current traffic congestion. And,thus the projections for traffic after the hospital expansion is complete are also flawed. No significant mitigation measures are planned for either Sand Hill or Alpine Rds. There will be gridlock on these roads at evening commute time (worse than now) if the project goes forward as planned. Residents along these western exits from Menlo/Stanford Shopping Center/STanford Med Center should press for a re-do of the traffic analysis at the Menlo Park City Council meeting on 5 April.


Posted by Gunther Steinberg, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Commissioner Cronin evidently does not live close tot he Stanford campus or experience its traffic during commute hours. Much or most oft hat additional traffic will occur during the times of 7:30 to 9:30 AM and 3:30 - 6:30 PM. - Even today, traffic from 280 on Alpine Road is usually bumper to bumper during these hours. Same for Junipero Serra between Sand Hill Road and Page Mill Road.

Even to the new intersection of Santa Cruz, Sand Hill, Junipero Serra is subject to gridlock around 6 PM on many days during rush hour.

One solution for the Stanford gridlock would be to build an interchange on 280 specifically for access to and from Stanford for its traffic. That would only leave the traffic from 101 to the campus to be borne by Palo Alto. - It is too late for the Willow Expressway which was on the books in 1964 when I moved to the area.

Stanford's solutions are usually primarily for its own benefit and fail to consider its location adjoining Menlo Park and within Palo Alto.


Posted by Mi, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Stanford is now a corporation and, as such, needs regulation. Seldom does Stanford not get its way; by overreaching in the proposals, it eventually lands pretty close to its intended goal, which makes Stanford appear 'friendly' or generous to the locals. Note that their plan is NOT FOR THE COMMUNITY - it is for them. Only.
And this area, PA & MP, will dearly pay. Oh, maybe they'll allow groups from PA to play sometimes on their fields and they'll have community-called gatherings. But don't mistake that for their claims of improving quality of life amidst the rest of the smoke they're blowing. Wake up folks.


Posted by joan b, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

this truly is unacceptable and needs to change ASAP!!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Joan states:"this truly is unacceptable and needs to change ASAP!!"

The ONLY way the Stanford/Palo Alto deal will change at this point (which is years down the road from when the negotiations began) will be if Menlo Park challenges both the DEIR with well documented shortcomings and then the EIR in court. This horse left the barn a long time ago and Menlo park was simply not at the table.


Posted by Robert Cronin, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I am on the transportation commission. For the benefit of Gunther Steinberg, I live about two miles from the Stanford campus. About twice a week I bicycle through the intersections that he complains about during the afternoon rush hour. The traffic is slow, but still moves faster than my bike. It is rush hour, after all. It is a big stretch to call it gridlock. I am wondering from what vantage point Mr. Steinberg is observing the traffic conditions. If he is driving his car, then he is part of the problem and has little right to complain about other drivers.


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Mr. Carpenter, let's not discount the political will of the people of our community.

People in our community know and perhaps are Stanford benefactors, Stanford University Trustees, Stanford University Medical Center faculty members, Stanford Alumni, etc. The best thing we can do is educate our community and spread the word, so those who would and can act on our behalf, will do so.

And for the record, our City, Mayor Cline, and individuals in the community did respond to the draft EIR, should the City Council determine litigation is necessary.

The FEIR is not certified yet. There is still time.








Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Raymond states"Mr. Carpenter, let's not discount the political will of the people of our community. "

Sadly, I do discount the political will of the people in our community. Few of them bother to vote, even fewer have ever attend a council meeting and far fewer have entered into the ring of public service. We get the kind of government that we deserve - unfortunately.


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I firmly believe the silent majority of people in this community whom you refer to aren't apathetic. They are just busy. Busy working and innovating, busy holding onto their jobs, busy raising kids, busy paying their mortgages, just plain busy.

But the people in our community are amazingly intelligent, and capable. Let's just see if we can focus our energy on getting their attention.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Raymond - you are correct - people vote with their feet and they are very busy doing things other than civic involvement.


Posted by CV speaks volumes, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Our involved Atherton citizen Mr. Carpenter was former CEO of Stanford Med Center and former member of Palo Alto Planning Commission.
I sense a somewhat condescending "paternal instinct" on his part in the putdowns of our MP citizenry for "voting with their feet"
BTW, the current chair of the Palo Alto Planning and Commission must recuse himself because the wife works for Stanford.
The PA Commission meets tomorrow nite Wed. with the near rubber stamp approval of the FEIR as the "late" item on their busy agenda.
Thanks to Mr. Mueller and his dedicated MP Transportation colleagues for crying foul against Palo Alto and Stanford!
Palo Alto loves the Stanford cash flow, but not the traffic flow.
So, they have blocked off Alma at ECR and forced traffic onto MP ECR and adjacent neighborhoods. Typical PA and Stanford games at MP's expense.
With a lame duck MP city manager and default mayor, it's refreshing that our appointed commissioners get some much overlooked notice by the press. MP council is shorthanded in this matter because our "illustrious" Mayor wannabe Kelly is recused because her husband also works for Stanford.
Time for the MP council to pay attention. On April 5th, you have the chance to push back big time against PA and Stanford, and make your electorate proud to have you as our legal representatives in this critical matter


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

CV states:"I sense a somewhat condescending "paternal instinct" on his part in the putdowns of our MP citizenry for "voting with their feet"

That is my opinion - I am prepared to be proven wrong but I won't hold my breath. I wonder how many MP citizens will speak up at the PA Planning Commission tomorrow. Perhaps CV will go and let us know.

Facts are sometimes ugly things.


Posted by Rules of Court, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

When looking at the PA Planning Comm agenda on the SUMC FEIR, staff reports are noted as being issued to, "courtesy", among others,
Rick Jarvis!
Rick Jarvis, noted CEQA expert lawyer, formerly represented the City of Menlo Park in a CEQA matter.
Does one detect that the newly appointed Palo Alto City Atty, former counsel to the SF Airports Commission and and former SF asst DA, is clueless about this potential conflict of interest?
How can Jarvis be courted to represent PA and Stanford in a CEQA challenge by MP with his prior representation of MP?
Any judge pro tempores out their who can shed light on this conflict?


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2011 at 10:03 pm

[This and subsequent posts removed at poster's request]


Posted by St. Patricks redux for Jarvis, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm

That's the same Rick Jarvis that represented City of MP against St. Pat's neighbors.
As "Special Counsel" for Palo Alto and Stanford, how many hats does this guy get to wear before a judicial review panel deems he can't represent Palo Alto and Stanford when he previously represented Menlo Park in a CEQA case?
May pass the "court test" but it doesn't pass the ordinary John Q. Citizen "laugh test"!
BTW, JeanMcCown, also on the "courtesy list" as Stanford's PR person, is former Mayor of PA. And, her predecessor, bouncing back from a Princeton stint, was nearly appointed PA Planning Director after less than 6 months on PA staff! Look it up!
Company town, all around!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

Ray - Your apology is not necessary but is gratefully accepted. These forums often wander from the issues at hand and too often veer towards personal attacks - I have learned that those attacks come with my chosen role of being outspoken and only posting in my own name.

I am a firm believer in democracy but am also increasingly concerned that most citizens in our communities simply don't give a damn. The Fire Board held a key strategic review meeting yesterday dealing with fundamental issues as a balanced budget, revenue projections, capital improvements, sustainable pension programs etc - all issues about which many posters on this forum wax eloquently. The Fire District serves 95,000 people and guess how many citizens showed up to participate in this discussion - TWO (both MP residents by the way). And the Fire Board places no limit on citizen participation in such study session - citizens can ask question and make statements in these sessions without any time limit.

As has been noted I have some familiarity with both the medical center and the PA planning process and I know that a good outcome for Menlo Park would have required staring years ago and building strong relationships with both of these key actors. Does MP have a designated liaison with either Palo Alto or Stanford, does the MP Council have a designated member to work with the PA Council and Stanford, have the MP staff and council participated in the many meetings on the hospital expansion over the last two years, have any MP residents spoken up at PA Planning Commission meetings or at PA Council meetings? The well known PA Process has been mastered by few but understanding that process is key to influencing the outcome. Frankly and sadly I just don't see the citizens of MP as being enough concerned to engage in the long hard slog to influence the outcome. Now, at the penultimate stage, there is a sudden and new found concern about impacts but MP has waited too long and the only recourse will be the courts. Stanford has enough hard earned experience with EIRs to make sure that this one will be bullet proof.

Democracy is hard work and it cannot be left to others.


Posted by curious and busy, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 23, 2011 at 9:58 am

As another very busy MP resident, I don't have time to track all this. What I wonder tho is how all the u-turns at Cambridge are to be addressed. When Sand Hill Rd changed, the number increased dramatically. IMO this has caused a lot of the congestion in our town because the through-traffic red lights are longer to accommodate the u-turns to get to either Alma or to Sand Hill.
Also, the bike path to the San Mateo Dr. bike bridge is discontinuous and poorly marked and the intersection at El Camino and path to Alma bike bridge dangerous. Better and safer paths might help encourage biking.


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

"As another very busy MP resident, I don't have time to track all this"

Precisely my point.

"What I wonder tho is how all the u-turns at Cambridge are to be addressed. When Sand Hill Rd changed, the number increased dramatically."

A great example of something that should have been addressed BEFORE the Sand Hill/El Camino intersection was changed.



Posted by John, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Agree with the previous two comments. If the Menlo Park City Council insists on anything it should be that Palo Alto and Stanford open Alma to Sand Hill Road traffic and visa versa. Forcing all the Palo Alto/Stanford traffic into Menlo Park is both inefficient and unfair to Menlo Park residents. And, yes, Menlo should have insisted on that when Sand Hill was expanded.


Posted by marcus twainus, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics!"
Peter, read the SUMC EIR traffic consultant responses to comments by City of Menlo Park and Menlo Park residents/commissioners to the draft EIR.
How can they respond with straight faces? Do they take MP commissioners/councilmembers/staff and residents for fools?
I.E., Carpooling, cycling, bus trips to achieve a 35% TDM for hospital employees, GoPasses on Caltrain, adaptive signal timing already in place that is not currently optimized during rush hour?
All will either reduce MP intersection impact to less than significant in 2025? , or adopt a "Statement of Overriding Consideration" where no mitigation is possible.
It's the same pattern of lies and distortions that is standard operating procedure for PA approval of big Stanford expansion projects at the expense of Menlo Park.
That's why MP sued PA and Stanford on the Sand Hill widening project that made it only 2 lanes from Arboretum to ECR, and blocked off any Alma access. MP staff knew that U Turns at Cambridge from Alma Palo Alto would increase and congest ECR in MP.
One suspects that litigation will be MP's only recourse this time around until Stanford makes substantial increases in monetary compensation to MP, and PA reopens discussion of opening up Alma to access.
Any bets?


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm

peter carpenter is a registered user.

MT states:"Peter, read the SUMC EIR traffic consultant responses to comments by City of Menlo Park and Menlo Park residents/commissioners to the draft EIR."

If you wait until the Draft EIR is out to attempt to redirect a Stanford project and you do not have planning approval authority for the project, like Palo Alto does, then your efforts will be in vain. The law requires the final EIR to respond to issues and concerns that are raised, the law does not require that those responses will make you happy. They have to do the dance but they don't have to dance the way you want.


Posted by Gunther Steinberg, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I thought of another solution to the Stanford traffic problem: Cut the number of parking slots on campus in half, making it virtually impossible for people to use a car to get to work.
Then, in addition to the preceding, locate a mass parking lot off 101and 280 on some of their land next to the freeways. Bus all the people to campus or have an endless people-mover installed.


Posted by Gunther Steinberg, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

In response to Robert Cronin, a resident of the Menlo Park, who bicycles from the Willows: at 86, I can no longer make it on the bike from the shopping center up Alpine Road to Ladera, not speak up the hill to where I live. The hills are too steep. No choice but to drive - it is too far to walk too.


Posted by JB, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 7:48 am

The Tranportation Commission did exactly the right thing in sending a strong message to council. Of course Palo Alto and Stanford are marginalizing and mocking Menlo Park in this process. Traffic conditions are already near "intolerable" levels at rush hour along El Camino and Sand Hill, and the dramatic expected increase (which is typically understated in these reports) will make matters much worse. For Menlo Park residents, particularly West Menlo, clever drivers will bypass their way onto our own residential roads, where we live, walk, and ride bikes (kids in particular). This incidental traffic will not add jobs, shop in our stores, or show regard for speed limits -- all downside for our town.

Mr. Carpenter, who of course does not live in Menlo Park, seems intent on only reminding the city what it "should have done". If he had any real concern about traffic issues initially, instead of just blind allegiance to Stanford, he would have stood up and helped the city comment at the proper time. His comments in this string are of no value to this process.

The fact is "we are where we are" and all the city can do is push back vigorously on the funding issue and continue to be heard on issues related to mitigation, traffic control, and safety of our residential roadways.


Posted by Apples/Oranges, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:07 am

Peter Carpenter has the right overall point about different government entities essentially being able to ignore other government entities when making land use decisions, but he's got the wrong example. By my observation, the Fire District wasted a ton of time in the Menlo Gateway review trying to make the case that the developer paying for a new fire truck was a CEQA issue, which it clearly is not- it's a money issue. The end result might have been the same, but they should have tried from the get-go to make it a moral or fairness issue, and they also could have been more explicit about being open to partial funding (since the truck would be useful for other buildings, like the Four Seasons in East Palo Alto). Maybe they were open to that in private meetings, I don't know, but the public stance was a mixture of stubbornness and confusion about what CEQA actually requires.

Regardless of whether you agree with their claims, Ray and the rest of the Transportation Commission at least have the advantage of making an actual environmental point about traffic. Thus, a lawsuit on those points actually has a shot- the fact that the Fire District didn't sue should tell you something about what their counsel thought of their chances in court.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

There was no confusion in the Fire District approach to the Bohannon Project. That project will, IF it is ever built, impose a substantially new requirement on the Fire District to respond to a high structure fire east of 101 while still maintaing that capability west of 101. In the legally mandated CEQA review the Fire District identified this an an impact which needed to be mitigated. The City, with its dearth of fire fighting experience, told the Fire District that the project 1) did not require a second ladder truck and 2) even if it did that the City had already gotten as much money out of Bohannon as it could and that all that money was going to the City. The City told the Fire District that they would need to get mitigation money from Bohannon on their own without the City's help (ala Palo Alto and Stanford vs Menlo Park.) The final insult was a last minute City demand for Bohannon to plant more flowers on the Bohannon project. Sadly those flowers won't provide much of a cushion if anyone needs to jump from the upper floors.

Lots more details and facts on this on a much earlier thread.


Posted by informed decision making?, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

Read the CEQA case law decision blogs on CEQA specialty law firm sites.
You will see a common thread that Appellate and Supreme Court Justices continually emphasize.
To paraphrase, "To insure substantial compliance with CEQA mandates, carefully documented, credible and non-contradictory data and conclusions , a step by step analysis, and a set of alternatives and feasible mitigation measures to insure informed decision making by the responsible agency, in the spirit and intent of CEQA".
Approving CEQA documents on sizeable projects with significant impacts defaulting to "Rubber stamps with fuzzy logic" just doesn't pass the "laugh test" with the higher courts.
How can 4-5 year old intersection traffic counts in Menlo Park and wishful thinking of public transportation useage (TDM) to reduce 35% of the 10000 additional car trips by employees, patients, visitors, etc. and Caltrain GOPassess?, pass the "laugh test"?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

Here is a link to the earlier thread on how the City of Menlo Park summarily dismissed the Fire District's concern regarding the impact of the Bohannon Project:

And two excerpts from that thread which show that Palo Alto is simply following the Menlo Park playbook in responding to Menlo Park's concern re the hospital project:

1) Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Steve asks:"While I agree with your point that the Fire District may have a dog in this race and should have been at the table (do you know that their interests weren't considered by the city?)"

Simple,here are the published planning parameters -

"As described above, the City Council provided direction to the negotiating team on November 17, 2009 in the form of caveats. One of the first tasks that the staff negotiating team performed was distilling the caveats into a set of parameters, which were reviewed by the Council Subcommittee. The parameters can be summarized as follows:

Highest Priority Items

Timely guaranteed revenue

Substantial vehicle trip reduction

Substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

Limits on transferability without City approval

Reasonable limits on the time for construction - Hotel in 1st phase

Improvement to the footprint & aesthetics of the parking structures

Priority hiring program for Menlo Park residents

Commitment to pursue LEED gold for office and silver for hotel

Other Priority Items

Improving bike and pedestrian connection to and from the Belle Haven neighborhood and in the Marsh Roar corridor

Land for housing

Page 5 of 17 Staff Report #10-044

Increased revenue beyond FIA projections

Undergrounding of transmission lines

Developing a vision for the Menlo Park waterfront area

Enhancing Bayfront Park

Providing retail services or child care on-site or nearby

Additional public benefits such as bus shelters and youth programs"

Not one mention of fire services !!
*********************

2)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Here is how the City treated concerns raised by the Fire District inits EIR:

"The Menlo Park Fire Protection District (District) states that the project would have a negative impact

on providing proper emergency services because the project includes buildings over three stories in

height. According to the District, "acceptable standards" require a ladder truck be located within

2.5 miles of the project site. According to the District, the closest aerial ladder truck is 3.1 miles from

the site. Although this truck would have an 8 minute response time, which is in keeping with the

applicable National Fire Protection Association's 1710 Standard, the District contends that there is a

negative impact due to this distance. The District's letter and subsequent correspondence do not

provide any citation to the legal authority supporting its position.

The Bay Area Economics (BAE) Fiscal Impact Analysis referenced in the District's letter states that the

requirement for the proximity of an aerial truck (i.e. 2.5 miles) comes from the Insurance Services

Organization (ISO) 2004 Public Protection Classification Study. ISO is the leading supplier of

statistical, underwriting, and actuarial information for the property/casualty insurance industry. The

ISO's 2004 Public Protection Classification Study states their report "is not for purposes of determining

compliance with any state or local law, nor is it for making recommendations about loss prevention or

life safety." As such, there is no legal basis for the District's assertion that a ladder truck must be

located within 2.5 miles of the project site. The District's comment letter, therefore, does not provide

the substantial evidence required by CEQA Guidelines section 15384(a) to support its claim as to a

"negative impact."

The District's comment letter also does not indicate there is an actual physical impact to the

environment. In fact, the majority of the District's letter relates only to the cost of a ladder truck. The

District indicates it would need to "convert" an existing engine company into a truck company.

Similarly, the BAE Fiscal Impact Analysis states that the existing engine would need to be "replaced"

with a ladder truck. The cost of this ladder truck is considered in the BAE Fiscal Impact Analysis and

the District's comment letter in the context of this need for conversion/replacement. However, CEQA

only is concerned with physical impacts to the environment. Thus, the economic impact alleged, which

is not mandated by the development of the project, is not a physical impact and; therefore, no change

to the Draft EIR's analysis or conclusion is warranted, per CEQA Guidelines section 15382. In

addition, if the District chose to replace the existing engine company with a truck company and that

conversion required any modification to or remodel of the existing fire station, it would be an

insignificant change that does not result in a substantial adverse physical impact on the environment.

Again, as noted on page 3.10-3 of the Draft EIR, the relevant criterion for making a determination

about the project's impact is whether it would "result in a substantial adverse physical impact

associated with provision of new or physically altered police and/or fire protection and emergency

services facilities ." As presented, the District's concerns do not raise issues with the adequacy of

the DEIR or the City's implementation of CEQA."

So nothing about the Fire District's very legitimate needs in the planning parameters and swift dismissal of their concerns in the EIR.

Truly unprofessional planning and project review.
*************

You reap what you sow.


Posted by LAC, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Mr. Carpenter: Can you try to be constructive? You have decent experience but seem focused on just telling Menlo Park how dunb it has been. Impressive.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Lac asks:"Mr. Carpenter: Can you try to be constructive?"

Yes, please read ALL of my previous postings:
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Joan states:"this truly is unacceptable and needs to change ASAP!!"

The ONLY way the Stanford/Palo Alto deal will change at this point (which is years down the road from when the negotiations began) will be if Menlo Park challenges both the DEIR with well documented shortcomings and then the EIR in court. This horse left the barn a long time ago and Menlo park was simply not at the table.
*************
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Raymond states"Mr. Carpenter, let's not discount the political will of the people of our community. "

Sadly, I do discount the political will of the people in our community. Few of them bother to vote, even fewer have ever attend a council meeting and far fewer have entered into the ring of public service. We get the kind of government that we deserve - unfortunately.
*************
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm
peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

MT states:"Peter, read the SUMC EIR traffic consultant responses to comments by City of Menlo Park and Menlo Park residents/commissioners to the draft EIR."

If you wait until the Draft EIR is out to attempt to redirect a Stanford project and you do not have planning approval authority for the project, like Palo Alto does, then your efforts will be in vain. The law requires the final EIR to respond to issues and concerns that are raised, the law does not require that those responses will make you happy. They have to do the dance but they don't have to dance the way you want.
*************
You may not like my constructive advice but it is simply that you have to get involved early and stay involved if you want to affect the outcome.

Don't get upset with me if I point out that most of the current protestors have been asleep while this project has being working its way through the PA process - would you rather say that I hope that you had a good sleep?



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm

LAC wants constructive suggestions (but is not interested in even thinking about past mistakes) so let me give it a try:

1 - Menlo Park needs to decide what would be a satisfactory outcome - probability of this happening in a timely fashion is about 10%

2 - Menlo Park needs to mobilize a significant number of its residents to support the desired outcome - probability of this happening is about 5%

3 - Menlo Park needs to have those concerned residents individually and collectively confront Stanford to demand the desire outcome - probability of this happening is about 1%

4 - Menlo Park needs to sue Stanford for an inadequate EIR - probability of this happening is about 60%

5 - Menlo Park needs to win the EIR lawsuit - probability of this happening is about 2%

Have I missed anything?


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Mr. Carpenter, please try to avoid characterizing the efforts of Menlo Park residents who are trying to obtain a positive outcome for their City;

Menlo Park deserves a fair deal regarding traffic mitigation akin to the offer Palo Alto has received from Stanford.

I actually do appreciate your comments regarding the process, Mr. Carpenter, and look forward to some day learning more from you at the political workings of the Palo Alto EIR process, and in retrospect your comments will be useful to consider, but the final page to this chapter is not yet written.

The Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission continued it's decision on the Stanford FEIR for a second time at it's meeting this past week to allow time for the City of Menlo Park to respond. The process is not over, and the efforts of the people in our community who are speaking out about the issue substantively with their neighbors are appreciated. Menlo Park residents deserve a fair deal.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Ray states:"Mr. Carpenter, please try to avoid characterizing the efforts of Menlo Park residents who are trying to obtain a positive outcome for their City;"

You will never succeed if you don't understand the shortcomings of your efforts. Plaudits before something is accomplished serve no purpose. The original article stressed the 'intolerable' impacts of this project but somehow failed to explore why this project has reached this point before the impacts were sudddenly found to be intolerable and also failed to examine what steps had been taken to illuminate those problems earlier in the process and to mitigate them early in the design stage.

How many Menlo Park residents spoke at Wednesday nights PA Planning Commission?


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Mr. Carpenter,

You last entry was posted while I was typing my last.

We agree about we what needs to be done.

I, however, am more optimistic than you with respect to the probabilities.


Posted by LAC, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Let's work among the Menlo Park residents (note the word "resident") who would prefer to be positive and to make improvements to our city over time. It is our town and we'll keep getting better. Is anyone else concerned that we have someone on the First District board with so little regard for the city and the resolve of its people??


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm

LAC states:"Is anyone else concerned that we have someone on the First District board with so little regard for the city and the resolve of its people??"

Now you are getting personal and that always gets my attention.
First, is is the Fire Board not the First Board.

Second, I have been serving YOUR community as an elected official for almost 9 years.

Third, there is no evidence that I have 'so little regard for the city' - in fact my advice is intended to help, but that presumes that you want practical advice that will help you achieve your outcome. I am not in the business of simply patting people on the back and saying "great job' when they have done nothing.

Fourth, there is a lot of evidence that the good citizens of Menlo Park do not have a great deal of either awareness or resolve.

Fifth, who in the hell is LAC and what have you done lately?


Posted by LAC, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Yes, "Fire" -- typo. Not personal at all and I appreciate anyone who volunteers. You take up a lot of air space yet seem far more focused on assigning odds of success than offering to help in each case to actually improve the odds of success. Your "fourth" item above seems to say it all. Interesting that you keep saying "yours" and not "ours" -- maybe a typo. Have a great day.


Posted by PV Resident, a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Not everyone in the community has so much disdain for Stanford. Certainly Stanford has done more for traffic improvements in the area of the current hospital than Palo Alto or Menlo Park. Projects that were in discussions for 50 years were finally paid for and completed by Stanford, including all the road improvements on Sand Hill from El Camino to the entire Sand Hill / Santa Cruz Avenue intersection.

Also, has anyone asked the traffic consultants about their work four years ago. That was prior to the recession - maybe traffic levels were higher then.

In addition, the traffic "gridlock" is largely an exaggeration and is certainly not caused by hospital traffic. Traffic congestion is easily worse on Page Mill, and other east-west thoroughfares on the peninsula.

The characterization of Stanford as an enemy, and to say that the hospital is somehow not a benefit to the community is ridiculous. We have one of the greatest community resources in our own backyard, and we should be working with Stanford to make it a great project, not trying to make it more expensive for everyone in the process. Many generations of our families here have been born and have passed at Stanford. The hospital is an integral part of our community and we should talk to Stanford like a team member. I think they're willing to work with the communities.


Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm

P.V.,

Unfortunately, in this circumstance the issues are a bit more complex. The Development Agreement and the FEIR between Stanford and Palo Alto set forth a mitigation offer to deal with traffic from the hospital expansion, that is substantially and materially different than what has been offered to Menlo Park.

This despite the fact that 3 of the 4 parking structures built to accommodate over 2000 new parking spaces will be built in immediate proximity to Sand Hill Road, and that a second road connecting Sand HIll road to the facility is being constructed. Moreover, Palo Alto has been offered a safeguard, where Palo Alto will be provided with extra compensation, should SUMC employees fail to use alternative forms of travel, such as Cal Train, at a 35% participation rate. Menlo Park has not been offered the same safeguard. The EIR impact is based on a 35% participation rate.

And the questions lingers, is there a suburban hospital in the world, where 35% of the employees travel use alternative forms of travel to get to work?

Obviously there are many positive benefits to the new hospital. No one would dispute that. But the matter is far more complex. Should Stanford fail to reach it's TDM targets, how will Menlo Park pay for the traffic mitigation that will be required? Palo Alto will have the money to deal with issue, Menlo park won't. In a climate of budget shortfalls, is that risk acceptable?

I certainly share your hope that Stanford will be willing to work the Menlo Park City Council and Staff to reach a fair agreement. Obviously time will illustrate whether that will be the case.


Posted by Pots and Kettles, a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

It's truly funny to get mad at Stanford for any traffic problems.

Granted this new construction may cause some short term problems, but if anyone wanted to know what ties up a MAJOR highway or two in the area it's Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton.

Palo Alto runs their trafic up to Santa Cruz on the Central Expressway - Alma and then doesn't allow it to cross El Camino to access 280. Genius!

Atherton runs Marsh Road into Middlefield without access to anything.

Menlo Park runs Willow into Middlefield with the same result.

The Peninsula should CLOSE Willow and Marsh exits on 101 to allow the rest of humanity to move along there merry way.

STANFORD allowed the rest of us to have 280 crossing their land (and the Linear Accelerator) How much land have any of you given up for the greater good lately?

Sand Hill works far better than it used to and so does Junipero Serra with the changes that Stanford has made.

Making another exit off of 280?? Terrible idea. Widening Alpine Road? That's probably the answer, but we will all scream and yell that it shouldn't happen. Maybe Stanford will decide to bless us all and make a tunnel connecting itself to the highway that is on it's land, but I doubt it. (Perhaps Arastradero could be widened, but that's south of the campus.) Have you seen Oregon Expressway? Perhaps they should shut off all non-Stanford traffic across their land there??

Stanford has put more housing on campus. They've built up the inner campus open spaces as folks wanted them to. A lot of commuters have been taken out of the equation thanks to their investment. So, let's go out of our way to stop this new construction. Say "no" to all the jobs. Put a damper on the heart of the economy on the Peninsula. Let's stop any new companies getting developed around here. Stanford is just a terrible neighbor with the vast amount of open spaces they have still managed to preserve.

We survived all the other changes that we thought would end the world. Can you remember how bad traffic used to be?? How unsafe some biking was??

Should Menlo Park get the same deal as Palo Alto? Of course, based on the amount of traffic that will be forced their way. MOST of the traffic will flow elsewhere and not through Menlo Park.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Pots and Kettles - WELL STATED.

However, be prepared to now be attacked by those who do not understand that Stanford is the goose that continues to lay the golden eggs that have made and continues to make the mid-peninsula the great place it is. Some folks ignore the golden eggs and just spend their time lamenting the goose droppings. Killing the goose to get rid of the goose droppings would be a very costly decision.


Posted by Old MP, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm

It's pretty simple - PA blocked Alma because MP refused to follow through with the Willow Road connection. Want to solve the problem? Both cities need to make the connection to Sand Hill Road. Of course neither city is willing to fix their self-induced problems.

It will never change - and neither city can force the other to make it different.

MP should outlaw U-turns at Cambridge and and at Middle. That will solve the problem...Cars from Alma will need to turn left onto ECR and then find a way to U-turn somewhere in PA or start driving through the Stanford Shopping Center parking lots.


Posted by SANSDOUTE, a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

[Post removed. Please post on the topic rather than make comments about another poster.]


Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:34 am

peter carpenter is a registered user.

I post regularly on this forum in spite of being very busy on a number of boards and doing a lot of other things for my community because I believe that intelligent discourse is essential to a viable democracy.

50% of my posts are to provide factual information on the topic at hand, 40% are my personal opinion and 10% are rebuttals to personal attacks like Sansdoute's.

I always post in my own real name so I you don't wish to read what I post just skip anything that I post (although others do sometimes steal my name to post - the differences in style and content usually expose such imposters).

The real question is why don't other people post more often in order to create a true discussion?


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